Hinagiku Inquisition: From Tomboy to Otome – Katsura Hinagiku Has Become More Feminine

Feminine Outlooks, Masculine Personality

One of the many wonderful things about Katsura Hinagiku is the sharp contrast between her outlooks and her personality, and readers who like her could not fail to note that she is a very interesting person.

A static portrait of her might give you the impression that she is one of the most feminine girls in the series – that is, if you don’t put a shinai in her hands. She has girly name and nickname: “Hinagiku” is the Japanese word for daisy, and “Hina” means “young” or “little”. She has pink hair, surely a feminine colour. She is regarded as a beautiful girl by a lot of people, including Hayate. Judging by these characteristics alone, Katsura Hinagiku should be a very feminine girl.

Yet, “Isn’t she actually a little boy inside?” said Miki. Evidence would suggest that we cannot contradict her, as Hina has a rather masculine personality. Hina got herself involved in fights with boys when she found out that they were spiting chewing gum onto Miki’s hair. She was described as “cool” by Hayate, Ayumu and Miki. She received chocolate from a lot of girls on Valentine’s Day. All the evidence pointed out that she was not considered “feminine”, but “masculine”. In other words, she was more a tomboy than an Otome (“乙女”, a Japanese term meaning “young girl”.).

Now, it is not a fault to be a tomboy. The problem is that Hina preferred a feminine image to a masculine one. She retorted “I’m pretty feminine.” when Miki said that she was “cooler than the boys”. She was angry with Miki’s statement that she was “a little boy inside”. She was determined to show her femininity to Hayate. In other words, tomboy Hina would want to become a feminine girl. “From tomboy to Otome”, therefore, was her path of character development.

Character Development

Fact: Hina is a very poor actress.

We could see that such a development was indeed a recurring issue in the series. Hayate lectured Hina several times on how she should behave as a girl. Ayumu told her to be a little kinder to Hayate, and more importantly, to confess her feelings for him. Hina herself thought that Hayate preferred frail girls to tomboys… At different stages Hina responded to these requests differently. Sometimes she retorted back, sometimes she tried “to act more like a girl”, but the results were more or less the same: She never achieved obvious success in becoming more girly.

Of course, Hina’s “failure” to be more girly is one of the running gags in the series – and honestly, it appeares that there are more running gags about her than any other character. Yet, if Hina growing up is really on Hata’s agenda, then this running gag should come to an end sooner or later. The question is: Is Hina likely to change at all? Have we seen signs that she is changing?

My answer is: Yes.

“Yes?! What we have seen so far was her ‘failure’, so how could you find any evidence that she is making progress?” you might ask. It is true that while she “tried” to be girly, she ended up failing miserably. However, as the story goes, she actually developed several very girly traits without even noticing, and in recent chapters I could say without fear that Hina was an Otome. Strange, huh?

These traits are not entirely subtle, and readers more or less would have the feeling that Hina has changed. However, if we don’t point out precisely what she has changed, we might come to the conclusion that she was only acting strange because of the ship-teasing, and failed to figure out that she was actually changing from a tomboy to an Otome.

I would give you the four feminine traits I observed.

Four Feminine Traits

1. Jealousy

She admitted her jealousy.

“Women are creatures of jealousy.” I couldn’t remember who the Hell said this, but somehow I agree with him or her. Girls generally take romantic issues more seriously than boys, and jealousy over love rivals would therefore be more common in a girl than a boy.

It isn’t the case that Hina had never shown jealousy to any other girl before. In fact, the first girl towards whom Hina had shown jealousy was Ayumu. Remember Hina’s “state of confusion” when she thought that Hayate and Ayumu were going out? Even though she never admitted it, it was clearly jealousy. But then, she never admitted it, and she forced herself to act cool and do what she thought was correct: To help Ayumu.

Then, in Athens, she admitted to herself that she was jealous of Athena, and it was Ayumu’s words that invited her to look to the better side of things. Otherwise, Hina might think to the worst of things. Some people even suggested that she might end up killing Hayate or Athena. Now it is clear that this is only a stupid thing to even suggest, but when people could suggest that Hina might do the horribly stupid things that some girls actually do, didn’t it show that Hina was a girl to them?

Finally the Golden Week trip ended, and while almost everyone seemed to have forgotten the existence of Athena, Hina alone brought her name up to discuss with Hayate. When the nickname “A-tan” slipped out of Hayate’s mouth, Hina expressed clearly that she was unimpressed and jealous. She no longer pretended that she was okay with him loving other girls.

Girly jealousy.

2. Self-awareness

It’s only Hayate she was worrying.

This is one thing that Hayate lectured Hina over and over again: “Please have more self-awareness!”

By “self-awareness” Hayate meant that Hina should care about what the guys around her would think of her actions. It would therefore not be appropriate for her to reveal her spats, to fan herself with her shirt, or to take off her clothes in front of everybody to reveal her swimsuits. Self-evidently all these incidents were examples of her lack of “self-awareness”.

It might well be true in the beginning, as Hina teased Hayate for his words, showing that she didn’t even care at all. However, as time went by, she actually has developed a kind of “self-awareness” around Hayate.

She wondered whether Hayate would consider her as a “frail girl”. She did not want to reveal her swimsuits in front of Hayate. She worried that Hayate would think she was clichéd to have donkey ears… All these are examples that she began to worry about her image in Hayate’s eyes, just like any other girl in love.

And incidentally, the running gag of her having a flat chest began after her “love at first sight”.

3. Expression of Shyness

She simply forgot how “embarrassing” it would be for Hayate to see her shy expression.

Originally I intended to break this heading into “blushing”, “shyness” and “defenceless”, but they are one in the same thing so it would be better for me to write them under this one heading.

Hina is very prone to blushing, and that is one of the reasons why she is so cute and popular. After she fell in love with Hayate she was seen blushing more and more frequently, to the point that some readers commented that she was suffering from high blood pressure.

Of course, Hina’s blushing comes from her shyness. Hina is extremely shy when it comes to body contact or clothes, and she could not stop herself from blushing whenever she finds she is in an embarrassing situation.

In the past, Hina had a kind of self-defence mechanism in front of Hayate. She would pretend that she was not shy, and began to call Hayate an idiot, talk with an air of hostility with him, while still unable to stop herself from blushing. This course of action earned her the status of a Tsundere, and gave Hayate the impression that “Hinagiku-san hates me”.

In recent chapters, though, Hina seemed to have lowered her defence, and showed her shyness outright to Hayate. After the Golden Week trip, Hayate managed to make Hina blush for at least 4 times: Ch. 267, 273, 276 and 284 respectively. In Ch. 273 she chose to run away from Hayate immediately, but she did not scold him. In the other 3 counts, she did not do anything to hide her shyness, and it was not until Hayate did something stupid that he had his head bitten off.

The only problem is that Hayate failed in every single event to notice that Hina was being shy.

4. Priority of Love

Reading female magazines just like any other girl.

Over the years Hina has been regarded as a model student. She was good at both study and sports, and took up leadership roles as Student Council President and the Kendo Club Captain. It seemed that romance has never been an issue for Hina, although she was very popular among boys and attracted pursuers such as Koutarou. If I were the parent to a teenage school girl, I would have told her to follow the example of Hina: Just concentrate on your studies, and worry about your love life after you graduated.

Hina falling in love with Hayate might have caused a problem for those parents who really told their kids to learn from her, but for several years no such problem has arisen. Indeed Hina remained busy with her studies and sports and duties, and therefore Hayate-Hina moments had shockingly been limited to the White Valentine arc and the Date arc.

It was therefore perhaps not so surprising that half of the Athena saga was devoted to Hayate-Hina developments. Indeed, the Golden Week was one of the very few occasions when Hina withdrew herself from study and work, therefore she could concentrate more on Hayate, and along with troubles and crises and everything, there was progress.

After the Golden Week, we might have expected Hina to return to her normal duties and put her problems with Hayate aside. Not quite so. On the night when she accidentally met Hayate in the coffee shop, she did not leave right away as Hayate expected, but she decided to stay, had some coffee and chatted with Hayate. On the cover page of Ch. 293, she and Ayumu were shown to be buying the newest issue of “an.an”, which included an article telling girls how to date with oblivious guys. Well, Ayumu has always been the “normal school girl”, so it would be natural for her to read that article, but Hina…?

What these incidents showed was that, instead of putting all her efforts on school, Hina might have been spending more time than before on her love issues. Now I have lost the role-model-student Hina to persuade my kid to concentrate on her studies…

New-Found Femininity

Even Hayate could see that something went strange.

So Hina was a girl who showed jealousy towards her love rivals. She was a girl who was aware of her image in the eyes of the one she loved. She was shy and was seen to be shy. She cared much about her love life. All of them are, in my opinion, feminine traits. Yes, these traits are not that special, but the point is that these traits were nowhere to be found when Hina was a tomboy. By developing these traits of a “normal girl”, Hina has become more and more feminine – more than she would have possibly imagined.

Her new-found femininity has its effects soon enough. In the “post-Golden-Week Hayate-Hina ship-teasers”, we could see Hina was very much troubled by her love of Hayate. She was seen as helpless, teased, and very unlike the old Hina we were once so proud to have. Some people came to the conclusion that her character was distorted, her role diminished, blah blah blah. If you still think that Hina was the old tomboy Hina, then of course you would find her acting strange. However, if you have noticed that she has developed a new, feminine personality, then you could see that she was just behaving like any other girl. That means that she has become more feminine than before.

Hata himself went as far as hinting subtly the changes of Hina once. Ch. 273, in which Hayate sent Hina flying with his words to fight for her, has the chapter title read “Doki! The Plan to Get a Maiden’s Heart (“乙女心”, or “Otome Kokoro”, in Japanese.) Beating! Or Something Like That.” Now wait a second – Since when has Hina been regarded as an “Otome”? If she was never an Otome before, at least she was starting from Ch. 273!

Hayate’s Opinion

He was happy with this discovery.

How you would comment on her new-found femininity is of course a matter of personal opinion. Some people want her to be more girly, some people want her to remain a tomboy. However, if her femininity has anything to do with the plot of her love story, then only the opinion of one person matters. Of course, this person is Hayate.

I don’t think Hayate held anything against Hina’s old masculinity. After all, it was the decisive and authoritative Hina who helped him out of his many troubles, and obviously he appreciated her. Yet Hayate seldom praised her for her “coolness” or masculinity. Instead, as suggested above, he lectured her when he thought that she needed some more girly behaviour.

On the other hand, he openly praised her several times when she showed even the slightest signs of femininity. He praised her cooking skills – a presumably feminine skill. He was pleasantly surprised to see “there was a girly side of you” on her birthday. He was pleased to see her smiling merrily in the amusement park. He praised her beauty in the night dress, and her cuteness when she had grown donkey ears…

What’s more, what had Ayumu told Hina about Hayate’s preference of girls? Answer: “Reliable, beautiful, nice girls”. Now Hina has already proven herself to be reliable (Hayate said so.) and beautiful (Hayate said so.). The only problem is being “nice”. When Hina was the tomboy, Hayate was under the impression that Hina was not being nice to him – He actually thought that she hated him. With Hayate’s clear fondness of a more feminine Hina, perhaps she really could do a better job in the future!

For Her Future

The little tomboy grew up, hadn’t she?

There are a lot of good things about the masculine Hina we would want her to keep, such as her toughness, decisiveness and her sense of justice. Yet Hayate would prefer her to be more feminine, and fans like me would also want her to be more girly. So, could she strike a balance between these two sides? Could she become the “reliable, beautiful, nice girl” whom Ayumu was sure would turn Hayate on? We’ll see.

Before the Golden Week trip, Hina’s attitude made Hayate think that she hated him, while Hayate thought he was unworthy of a love life. They were therefore unable to develop a stable romantic relationship. After the Golden Week trip, Hina has become more feminine, while Hayate has been released from his guilt to Athena. I don’t think it was mere coincidence. Perhaps, while we are still lamenting about the ship-teasers and Hina’s recent lack of screentime, Hayate and Hina are actually taking a step toward each other, and begin to build up the relationship they were once unable to.

If this really is the case, I would say that it is a genius grand plan by Hata, and the love story between Hayate and Hina would be very, very beautiful.

There is one final point to note. Hina’s growth benefits only one person: herself. Even if her chance of “winning” the love competition has been reduced to zero, I would still want to see her becoming a better girl. Remember that she cared about her lack of femininity in her own right, and Hayate was merely the catalyst. Even the failure in a relationship should not stop you from becoming a better girl, Hina.